Asheville, North Carolina
If you’ve heard of Asheville, North Carolina it probably had something to do with either breweries or the Biltmore Estate. If so, it would be pretty accurate! Asheville is home to the famous Biltmore Estate as well as numerous different breweries and part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s a charming little town with plenty of places to get food and drinks and beautiful mountain views just minutes outside of the city. In this Asheville, North Carolina travel guide I talk about where to go, places to get food and drinks, and where we stayed during our visit.
Where To Go in Asheville
When visiting Asheville it’s usually for one of the two reasons mentioned above. Either to go to breweries, or to go to the Biltmore Estate (or both). The Biltmore Estate is a beautiful historical must-see landmark right off of downtown Asheville hidden away in the heart of the city. Once you enter the Biltmore gate it’s a two mile drive up to the first stop, the Biltmore House. There are three main areas of the Estate to explore – the House, the Gardens, and Antler Hill with the Winery.
For a self-guided tour ticket at the time we went was $64 for a weekday or $74 for a weekend day. The self-guided tour includes a walk-through of the Biltmore House, access to the Gardens and Conservatory and hiking trails, and a free wine tasting at the winery. Altogether we were at the Biltmore property for a little over three hours and did everything except for the hiking trails. There is no established dress code but I wouldn’t show up wearing something overly casual or gym clothes. A blouse and jeans is fine for women and a t-shirt or button-down and khaki/dressy shorts is fine for men.
The Biltmore House is the largest home in America with numerous extravagant rooms, an indoor pool, multiple kitchens, servant quarters and so much more. Once you enter the house, there will be free tour books for you to take that will guide you through the house and explain each room. You have the option to take a self-guided tour of the home, or upgrade to additional touring options such as a Rooftop Tour or a Backstairs Tour. The tour of the home takes you through 3 different floors and took us about 45 minutes to go all the way through.
Biltmore Gardens and Conservatory
The Biltmore Gardens are a beautifully curated display of blooms that change throughout the year. When we went in early August the blooms were still bright and colorful with an array of colors. There are two main sections of the garden with different types of blooms and a lovely wooden walkway down through the middle of the gardens. There are multiple archways and paths to walk through to experience the beauty of the gardens.
On the hill at the top of the gardens is a small indoor greenhouse called the Conservatory with an endless array of unique, stunning plants that I’ve never seen before. You walk through dreamy canopies of flowers and plants as if in a fairy-tale world. If you’re looking for a place to get stunning photos, this would be it!
The Biltmore Winery is the most visited winery in the United States and for good reason. Upon entering the winery you walk down an ethereal hallway lit up by hundreds of strings of lights before arriving at the tasting room and wine shop. Once at the tasting room, you will be guided to a counter to begin your wine tasting experience. The gentleman who helped us with our tasting was very knowledgeable and led us through our wine choices based on our different tastes.
Make sure to make a reservation for a wine tasting before exploring the area so you don’t have to wait awhile to get in. Reservations can be made in person at the winery on the day of your tour. The wine tasting is included in your admission ticket and includes five small pours of wine of your choice from the tasting menu. We tried three white wines and two reds. I really enjoyed the Spring Release, Gewurztraminer (good with Asian foods we found out), and the Cardinal’s Crest while Andrew liked the Railcard Red.
After your tasting is complete, head to the wine/gift shop to purchase your favorite wines. The wine shop has just about every kind of wine you can imagine plus kinds of wine I’ve never heard of before. Prices range from approximately $13-32 per bottle depending on what type of wine you get.
This was the tasting menu when we went to the winery in early August 2020. The five we tried were Spring Release White, Limited Release Gewurztraminer, Limited Release Chenin Blanc, Cardinal’s Crest, and Railcar Red.
If you’re looking for outdoor adventure and mountain views around Asheville, Grandfather Mountain is the place to go. Grandfather Mountain is about an hour and a half drive north from Asheville but totally worth the drive. And if you’re stuck in traffic, no need to worry – your ticket will be good for an hour from your admission time. If you’re a AAA member you can get tickets for only $20 per person, otherwise $22 without. Once inside Grandfather Mountain, you’ll find attractions such as wildlife habitats, hiking trails, and the Mile High Swinging Bridge with 360 degree mountain views. Don’t worry, the bridge does not actually swing.
Mile High Swinging Bridge
The Mile High Swinging Bridge is the main attraction of Grandfather Mountain with stunning 360 degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You have the option to park further down the mountain and take a 15 minute hike up to the bridge. Or you can park right beside it and take a set of stairs up to the bridge. We decided to drive up which took us around the Forest Gump Curve and right to the bridge. Bridge traffic is one-way, so there’s a guide on each side of the bridge that tells you when it’s safe to go.
As you cross the bridge you reach the mile high spot in the middle which is a mile above sea level and gives the bridge its name. The Mile High Swinging Bridge is a beautiful spot to snap some unique insta-worthy travel shots like mine here below in the dress. However I would not recommend wearing a dress up on the mountain unless you can discreetly change into something else without bothering those around you for unwanted exposure (I had to change from this dress up on the mountain). If you need to change your outfit, I recommend parking right up by the mountain and changing in your car – I changed a total of three times 🤦♀️.
Once you cross the bridge you can climb up to the top of a few large rocks to see the awe-inspiring 360 degree views of the mountains and clouds. This is another amazing place for travel photos, looking out to the mountains. Be sure to capture photos of yourself with the gorgeous mountain views.
Another cool feature of Grandfather Mountain is their wildlife habitats. There are various animals that may be seen in the Blue Ridge Mountains for you to view up close. They have black bears, elk, otters, cougars, and bald eagles. It’s like visiting a mini zoo up in the mountains! The wildlife habitat is about halfway up the mountain road on a small little pull-off parking lot. It takes about 10-15 minutes to walk through if you stop to admire each animal.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Access the Blue Ridge Parkway right outside of Asheville and drive for miles along scenic winding mountain roads. The Blue Ridge Parkway goes for a few hundred miles but you can see beautiful sites without going more than an hour outside of the city. There are many different places to pull off and park along the side of the road to stop and enjoy the views. And there are also specific stop-off spots like Mount Mitchell and Craggy Gardens.
Craggy Gardens is a small trail that brings you though tree-covered paths into open fields, approximately a 15 minute trail, roundtrip. At Mount Mitchell you reach the highest peak east of the Mississippi River after a short 5 minute walk uphill to the top. This is another spot for beautiful all-around mountain views and travel photos. These photos below were taken on the side of the road right after leaving Craggy Gardens headed back toward Asheville.
Additional Places To Go
Here are a few other places to check out while you’re in the Asheville area.
If you’re looking for somewhere to shop, check out the Asheville Outlets about 15 min from downtown Asheville. They have most of your common major retailers such as Nike, Express, Francesca’s, American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch, Bath & Body Works, and many more. To see the full directory of stores, visit the Asheville Outlets Directory.
Grove Arcade is a beautiful indoor shopping area with unique one-of-a-kind shops and vendors. The architecture and design of the building is beautiful with archways and winding staircases all around. It is right in the middle of downtown Asheville with numerous restaurants and a couple breweries surrounding it.
Where To Eat in Asheville
These were the few restaurants we ate at while visiting Asheville. We had brunch at a bar atop a hotel and dinner on an outdoor patio of a Greek restaurant. And a classic dine-in dinner at a familiar restaurant for our final dinner in town. This part of the Asheville travel guide talks about where to get food and drinks in the area.
The Montford Rooftop Bar (on top of Hyatt Hotel)
I discovered this restaurant when researching Asheville restaurants on exploreasheville.com and instantly fell in love with the rooftop mountain views vibe. While looking up photos of the restaurant and views I found a photo an Olive Oil Cake that was just stunning! Since we arrived during brunch time the cake was unavailable. But it inspired me to try this Blueberry French Toast which had nearly the same ingredients. It was equally as stunning and oh so sweet.
The restaurant is on top of the Hyatt Place Asheville/Downtown hotel right on the edge of the downtown area. Parking is in the Hyatt parking lot and is free to park. Upon arriving the Hyatt hotel there will be an elevator to your left immediately after entering the first hotel door to take you up to The Montford. Prices were average, ranging from $4 – $14 per entree. I ordered the Blueberry French Toast and Andrew ordered the Chilaquiles which were delicious!
During COVID-19 restrictions, the number of guests is limited and each table is distanced from others. You are required to wear your mask at all time unless eating or drinking. They ask you to keep your mask on when talking to the waiter/waitress and when walking around the restaurant. There is a small area in the corner designated for photos if you wish to take photos from the rooftop. Views are of downtown and the mountains off in the distance.
On weekends brunch is served from 10am-1pm and the restaurant re-opens at 2 for the normal menu.
Apollo Flame Bistro
The first night we had no idea where to go for dinner. Andrew looked up a few places and found Apollo Flame Bistro, a Greek restaurant with pizza, gyros, sandwiches, pasta and more. There are two locations – we went to the location on Brevard Road. It’s at the end of a strip with a large indoor dining room and small outdoor patio overlooking the road. Prices were reasonable and they had a ton of options on the menu! Andrew ordered an amazing large specialty pizza for $18 and I ordered a traditional lamb gyro with fries for $9. If you’re in the mood for a casual spot with Greek food I would definitely recommend this place.
Twin Leaf Brewery
While searching for places to go in Asheville I came across the Twin Leaf Brewery while looking up ice cream. There’s an ice cream shop called The Hop that crafts beer-infused ice cream using beer from here so naturally I had to look it up. The brewery is a decent size with both indoor and outdoor seating. They have a variety of beer types and flavors which you can view on their beer menu on their website. Prices are not listed so you may have to ask if you are concerned about price. I got a 16oz sour beer in a bottle for $9.95 and Andrew got a 16oz tap beer for $6.
Of all the breweries in Asheville, Wicked Weed is probably the most popular/well known, so of course we tried going there. Lesson learned, do not try going on a Saturday afternoon during COVID-19 restrictions. You won’t get in unless you wait 2 hours. Needless to say, we did not actually get to go into the brewery and try and of their beers sadly. If you want to get in quickly, you’ll need to get there about 30 min before the brewery opens. Otherwise you can put in a reservation at the front, explore the city a bit, and come back.
Wicked Weed also has the Funkatorium with a bunch of flavored beers just down the road from the main brewery location. It is also a restaurant which we did not know, and the wait was 45 minutes. Once again, we were unable to try any of the beers. If you are a fan of fruity, flavored, or sour beers I recommend stopping by the Funkatorium if you can. They have an endless menu of unique flavored beers.
Additional Breweries in Asheville
Another popular brewery, among many, is the Sierra Nevada Brewery out in the Asheville Arts District. The arts district is a short drive from downtown Asheville with views of the waterways. The brewery has two different taprooms and offers brewery tours. Beer selection is very wide and includes a large assortment of beer types and flavors.
Also in the Arts Distract of Asheville is the New Belgium Brewery which is famous for the Fat Tire Ale. A majority of the beers are ales or IPAs but there are also a few other types of beers available. The brewery has a large open outdoor space as well as a daily food truck on site. Reservations are required for the Beer Garden and can be made on OpenTable.
Where To Stay in Asheville
This brief section of the Asheville travel guide talks about where we stayed during our visit. Andrew and I stayed at the GLo Best Western hotel which was about 6 minutes outside of downtown Asheville. Our stay was for 2 nights, Saturday – Monday in August and the room was about $107 per night. We were impressed with how nice, clean, and modern the hotel was. But we wished the floors were carpeted, not laminate wood. Since we stayed during COVID restrictions, the free breakfast was not being offered in the morning. However they did still have fruit juice and coffee. The hotel staff was friendly and helpful and checkout was the easiest it’s ever been. Just drop your room keys in a box and go!
I hope this Asheville North Carolina travel guide was helpful to you and inspires you to visit! If there’s anything I missed or any questions you have about Asheville, leave a comment below.
Be sure to check out my other travel guides as well!
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